Seussical will rouse a sense of nostalgia in anyone who loves Dr Seuss, or ever participated in musicals at school.
Seussical is a clever intertwining of several different Dr Seuss stories: Horton Hears a Who!, Horton Hatches the Egg, and Gertrude McFuzz. It also features the Cat in the Hat, as narrator and various other roles.
Much of Seussical’s charm lies in its amateur feel. Some of the acting is exaggerated and transitions between scenes aren’t always seamless (the Cat in the Hat pointed out that intermission was timed so they could clean up the fake snow on stage). A giant box of props is wheeled around on stage, just like Year 9 Drama class.
That said, there are some outstanding performances. Sam McPartlan, who plays Horton, has a great singing voice. Not to mention, he’s adorable as the “faithful” elephant dedicated to saving the Whos and hatching an egg. Nicholas Renfree-Marks is fabulous as the flamboyant Sour Kangaroo – I only wish we’d seen more of him. Other special mentions should go to Mark Yeates (the Cat in the Hat) and Elise Cavallo (Mayzie LaBird) – both are very talented and have promising futures in theatre ahead of them. Yeates’ interaction with the audience was engaging and particularly appealing for children.
There’s plenty in the show for adults to enjoy too. Themes of unplanned pregnancy, drugs, body image, oppression, bullying and prejudice are all present. But they’re all addressed in a humorous and light-hearted way – the kids probably didn’t even notice.
One last thing: if you’re planning on seeing Seussical, be aware that it’s currently school holidays. The theatre will likely be packed with screaming children, and you may well be the oldest non-parent there.
The Old Carey Performing Arts Club is performing Seussical at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from 7 April to 19 April.